Trump administration unveils new executive order on counterterrorism sanctions

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled a new executive order that, among other provisions aimed at expanding counterterrorism sanctions, will allow the U.S. to target terrorist leaders without having to tie them to specific acts.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that they risk sanctions if they knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant transactions with designated terrorists and terrorist enablers,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE said in a statement accompanying the executive order. 

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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchiff: Diplomacy with Iran 'only way out of this situation' Bolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Buttigieg: Not too late for US to be 'constructive force' in Middle East MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Trump called out for 'my favorite dictator' while awaiting Egyptian leader at summit: report Romney opposes Trump taking executive action to reduce capital gains taxes MORE detailed the measure during a briefing with reporters at the White House, but the announcement was overshadowed by the firing of national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonLiz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Bolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' MORE, who had been scheduled to attend the event, just two hours earlier. 

The executive order amends a previous directive to allow the State and Treasury Departments to directly target leaders of terrorist groups and associated entities without having to tie them to specific acts, Pompeo said. 

He also said it “more effectively and efficiently targets individuals and entities who participate in terrorist training, and provides new authorities to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly do business with terrorists.” 

Mnuchin said the executive order “greatly enhances our ability to identify, sanction and deter perpetrators of terrorism worldwide.”

In conjunction with the announcement, the Treasury Department sanctioned more than a dozen leaders, individuals and entities affiliated with designated terror groups, including those affiliated with ISIS and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force. The State Department also announced 12 new terrorist designations on Tuesday. 

The announcement came on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Pompeo called the measure the “most significant update” to counterterrorism authorities in 18 years.  

“Today’s executive order … adds further muscle to U.S. counterterrorism efforts,” he said. “It will help us to ensure that the deadly attacks of Sept. 11 that occurred 18 years ago this week will never be repeated on American soil.” 

The briefing took place shortly after President Trump abruptly announced he had ousted John Bolton as national security adviser. Bolton was originally scheduled to attend Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, before Trump tweeted that he had submitted his resignation. 

Asked if they were caught off guard by Bolton’s sudden departure, Pompeo responded that he’s “never surprised.”

“And I don’t mean that on just this issue,” Pompeo said. “And I think Secretary Mnuchin would say the same thing.”